The cup is bell-shaped and made of glass. The procedure involves placing it over the skin and creating an area of low pressure.
The first reference to cupping dates back to Mesopotamian times – 3300BC – after which it spread to other medical practices such as those ancient Greece and Egypt.Cupping has come down to our own times as part of traditional eastern and western medical practice. Very few of our current medical approaches are backed by thousands of years of experience like this.
There are three types of cupping:
- Dry: the cup is placed over the skin
- Wet or scarification and cupping : before positioning the cup in the area to be treated, small incisions are made in the skin with a very fine scalpel to encourage drainage from inflammation.
- Cup massage: the cup is positioned on the skin and moved gently.
Currently cupping is proving a useful therapy with varied applications due to its significant localised anti-inflammatory analgesic effects. These make it irreplaceable in many pain-relieving treatments.
The application of a cup to specific external parts of the body has an effect which is reflected internally thus helping the restoration of normal functioning.
The main indications for cupping are:
- Chronic headaches: tension headaches, migraine.
- Backache: Lumbago, neck pain, dorsalgia.
- Peripheral vertigo.
- Tendonitis of the shoulder, elbow, Achilles tendon.
- Joint pain of the hips, knees.
- Contraction of the trapezium and dorsal muscles.
Cupping is always very safe form of therapy applied professionally.
Scarification and cupping is not usually used on young children and adolescents – massage is the preferred treatment for these age groups.
It is not contra-indicated for pregnant women, but the lumbar area is avoided because of the possible gynaecological effects.
It is not used for patients with metastasised cancers.